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February is the worst month for boiler breakdowns

Follow our tips to stay warm in freezing weather
boilers

Look after your boiler to make sure it won’t break down at the coldest time of year

As freezing temperatures grip the country, new data has revealed that boiler breakdowns are most common in February. 

Figures from landlord insurer Direct Line for Business show that boiler repair claims during February are 163% higher than the monthly average, and that last winter, there was a 27% increase in broken down boiler claims compared to the previous year.

It’s an unpleasant thought: on these cold, dark days, you don’t want to get caught out in a chilly house. To avoid boiler breakdown disaster, follow our tips for choosing, maintaining and repairing your boiler.

Choosing the right boiler

Replacing an old boiler can not only save you money on repairs, it can also cut your bills. We found that you can save an estimated £652 each year by swapping an old-style boiler for a modern one. 

If you’re in the market for a new boiler, make sure you read up on 5 things you need to know before you buy a boiler.

The most important thing is to make sure you choose a reliable boiler. According to our boiler reliability survey, almost two thirds of the most reliable boiler brands are still fault-free after six and a half years. But more than half of the unreliable boiler brands developed a fault in the same timeframe.

Boiler maintenance

We also recommend getting a yearly boiler service. Our members tell us the cost is around £70, compared with the £210 average cost of a boiler repair. Like a car, parts can wear out on your boiler, resulting in breakdowns and leaving you with a hefty bill for an emergency call-out. Not servicing your boiler may also invalidate its warranty.

Many companies offer annual contracts that include a service, which cost on average £200 a year. We think you’re better off just arranging a service and saving your money to put towards any repairs at a later date. 

A boiler engineer should carry out a thorough inspection of your boiler. Look at our tips on getting the best boiler service, including a checklist of what a service should include, and how to avoid poor work from your engineer. 

Emergency boiler repairs

If your boiler does act up, first consult the manual as it may contain troubleshooting tips. If you can’t find yours, download one from the manufacturer’s website, making sure you choose the manual for your exact model. 

Check to see if the condensate pipe has frozen. This vents condensate water from the boiler and can freeze in very cold weather. Use warm, not boiling, water to melt the ice in the pipe, then lag it to make sure it doesn’t freeze again. 

Don’t attempt any actual repairs yourself — doing so is dangerous and could invalidate your warranty. For a boiler fix, contact a Gas Safe registered boiler engineer. To find a recommended, qualified engineer, search Which? Trusted Traders

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